Video: Debating “extremist rhetoric” on Al-Jazeera

posted at 8:48 am on January 11, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Yesterday I made my first appearance on Al-Jazeera’s English-language channel to discuss the Tucson massacre and the attempt to pin the blame on Sarah Palin and the “heated rhetoric, particularly from those on the Right and the far Right,” as the host put it. He presses repeatedly on this point, while I point out that there is absolutely no evidence that the shooter had any connection to the “Right,” or any other rational political movement. When he asks why we shouldn’t tone down our political speech on the off chance a lunatic might be listening, I explain that we can’t calibrate our political debate to the lowest common denominator of sanity — and that it isn’t the job of politicians to do that anyway.

At the end, I scoff at the notion that the political rhetoric has been dialed down since the shooting, a point Marc Thiessen makes in his Washington Post column (via Instapundit):

On Sunday, the New York Times published a front-page story, “Bloodshed Puts New Focus on Vitriol in Politics.” Nowhere did it mention the vitriol hurled at Tea Party activists, who are routinely derided to as “tea baggers” and racists, and now stand accused of incitement to murder. If you want an example of the lack of civility plaguing our political discourse, look no further than this weekend’s shameful efforts to use this tragedy to demonize the Tea Party.

The only thing that happened this weekend is that the media ratcheted up their rhetorical attacks on grassroots conservatives.

Update: The Economist’s Democracy in America blog is less than impressed as well:

At this point, there is simply no sound reason to believe this deranged young man was fired up by “toxic” or “eliminationist” conservative rhetoric from Michele Bachmann or whomever. Why are we even having this conversation? It’s nuts. It’s offensive. Is there any, you know, evidence that political rhetoric is now more vitriolic or incendiary than usual? Maybe there is, but I know of none. A feeling in Mr Krugman’s gut doesn’t cut it. Doesn’t it seem at least as likely that a 22-year-old would be inspired to an act of high-profile atrocity by violent video games or films? As far as I know there’s no evidence of that, either.

Mr Loughner’s obsession with language as a form of control seems rather less like Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin than  Max Stirner, Michel Foucault, or even left-leaning linguists such as George Lakoff and Geoffrey Nunberg. Our own Johnson discusses speculation about the possible influence of one David Wynn Miller. But nobody’s going to try to smear Max Stirner, George Lakoff, or David Wynn Miller in the pages of the New York Times by recklessly associating their teachings with the tragedy in Tucson because, well, that would be completely bonkers and, more importantly, Max Stirner, George Lakoff, and David Wynn Miller didn’t just recapture the House.

That’s the real reason “jumping to conclusions” has become the favorite participatory sport of the media this week.


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Mazel tov, Ed.

mad saint jack on January 11, 2011 at 8:51 AM

I trust you didn’t ask him if Mohammed should have toned down his rhetoric in the Koran?

Disturb the Universe on January 11, 2011 at 8:52 AM

Good to hear the discussion. It’s starting to appear more and more that this was just another case of the liberal media jumping on the Teaparty’s supposed anger and rage.

AnninCA on January 11, 2011 at 8:53 AM

Mr Loughner’s obsession with language as a form of control

I blame Noam Chomsky.

rbj on January 11, 2011 at 8:54 AM

I like Al-Jazeera. They’ve got some good programs like Sharia Law and Order and Seinfeld the Treacherous Moneylender.

KingGold on January 11, 2011 at 8:54 AM

Backfire!

cmsinaz on January 11, 2011 at 8:55 AM

Kudos at the 1:47 Minute Mark,ED,I do love the
Ambush Attempt Question,which I’ve come to the
conclusion,that Al Jazeer ME MSM,and the Liberal
Party use the same Political PlayBook in their
interviews!

And I must say,your doing an OUTSTANDING JOB!!:)

canopfor on January 11, 2011 at 8:57 AM

“Debating “extremist rhetoric” on Al-Jazeera

Funniest headline evah!

There’s little more futile than attempting to “debate extremism” with extremists.

Rational Thought on January 11, 2011 at 9:02 AM

KingGold on January 11, 2011 at 8:54 AM

And Family Allah

Ugly on January 11, 2011 at 9:02 AM

didn’t just recapture the House.

Yep, there’s payback a’comin’ against the Tea Party for what they did which was destroy the liberal 40 year reign. Sadly this is just the start and oooooohh what a start.

KingGold on January 11, 2011 at 8:54 AM

ROFL

Bishop on January 11, 2011 at 9:03 AM

Good to hear the discussion. It’s starting to appear more and more that this was just another case of the liberal media jumping on the Teaparty’s supposed anger and rage.

AnninCA on January 11, 2011 at 8:53 AM

AnninCA:Your so fixated with the Tea Party possible demise,
heres the thing,Conservatives a year ago,were tick
ed off,and then came November,and Republicans won!!

The Conservatives had a good outcome,now the Left
are out of power,theres unemployment,GitMo,and the
War,and their loosing their homes,and the guy that
they voted in,has let them down,

and Liberals are Angry,Hurt,Betrayed,by their Party!

And THAT IS THE CURRENT POLITICAL CLIMATE!!!!!

canopfor on January 11, 2011 at 9:04 AM

Even if he would have been a Palin fan, that still doesn’t mean the rhetoric was ‘ratcheted up’.

In comparison: Muslim fanatics actually tell their followers that infidels and gays should be killed, women beaten etc.

Phoenician on January 11, 2011 at 9:05 AM

The media and other Democrats going on national TV and making completely unfounded charges of accessory to mass murder against political opponents is hardly “toning it down”.

But we shouldn’t even be discussing “tone”. As Jazz pointed out yesterday, maybe Loughner did it because his neighbor’s dog told him to. There’s just as much evidence for that theory as there is for the “tone of debate” nonsense – which is zilch.

forest on January 11, 2011 at 9:06 AM

Dedication to Pelosi,just Because!
==========================================

Metallica-The Frayed Ends of Sanity

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoequiWrWtE&feature=related

canopfor on January 11, 2011 at 9:06 AM

Oh yeah I forgot, Ed is really hitting the big time, too bad Captains Quarters had to be shelved to make it happen.

When Ed appears next to former Steelers coach Cowher on the NFL Today show, then he can finally say “Yep, I made it.”

Bishop on January 11, 2011 at 9:06 AM

I think I would have nothing to do with Al Jazeera, Ed.

Would you be happier if more people watched Al Jazeera, or fewer?

Akzed on January 11, 2011 at 9:08 AM

On Sunday, I was involved in a discussion on a liberal friend’s facebook page wherein I attempted to calm down another person who had vomited out the Sarah Palin meme. I simply said that violent and overheated rhetoric was done by both sides and is a bi-partisan issue. My liberal friend got on and told me to stop picking sides and just pray.

Yesterday, another friend responded to my FB status (which said something along the lines of “If you’re complaining about hateful political rhetoric and you’re also blaming Sarah Palin for the shootings then you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem). He really wanted to blame the Tea Party and Sarah Palin saying that they were the “most” violent speakers. After linking to Michelle’s post yesterday and a bunch of other accumulated proof of left-wing hate, he sputtered something about “and all of this is OK??!!” (he obviously hadn’t gone to the links). After I assured him it wasn’t, he went right back to singling out the Tea Party and Sarah Palin.

I have no words for this.

There is a ton of hate out there and there are people who simply will not let the truth intrude on their hate.

Religious_Zealot on January 11, 2011 at 9:08 AM

Ahem Elephant Vrs.Donkey
==========================

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_PxZyE6Jgabo/TSw_oLfkgOI/AAAAAAAAqVg/g1U7dCBD-os/s1600/theo4.gif

Via

http://www.theospark.net/

canopfor on January 11, 2011 at 9:09 AM

With commentary like this,Captain Ed is on his way to becoming Admiral of the Fleet.

horatio on January 11, 2011 at 9:11 AM

Every enemy of America tries to over interpret this mass murder.

“It’s a right wing terror wave!11!, much worse than those multiple but single instances of not-islamic confusions”

the_nile on January 11, 2011 at 9:11 AM

I’d like to see Allahpundit interviewed on Al Jazeera, just to see their reaction to his moniker. On second thought, …

KS Rex on January 11, 2011 at 9:11 AM

Well done, Ed. Your responses are measured and reasonable.

You are correct that the rhetoric of the Left has escalated. It has no relation to the actual facts of this particular case.

Toning down rhetoric on the off-chance that some unhinged listener might act out is assuredly pandering. It is further evidence of the “soft bigotry of low expectations.”

onlineanalyst on January 11, 2011 at 9:12 AM

Behead of the Class
Malcolm in the Middle of 72 Virgins
IED Damages
Shrouded Housewives

The Mega Independent on January 11, 2011 at 9:13 AM

So the English language itself, with the abettance of Sapir and Whorf, are in fact to blame for the massacre and should be prosecuted to the fullest. To prevent future tragedies, we should speak Toki Pona.

Greek Fire on January 11, 2011 at 9:14 AM

Good job, Ed. The interviewer certainly has an agenda, and you handled him well.

I didn’t expect that you would have had such a biased and hostile interviewer on fair and balanced Al Jazzera. /s

simkeith on January 11, 2011 at 9:15 AM

It’s not that both sides are doing it. One side is the aggressor and one side is on defense. The aggressor sets the rules.

Skandia Recluse on January 11, 2011 at 9:17 AM

Rvery damned time I read or hear someone accusing the rhetoric for this it makes me violently angry.

Therefore…it’s the MSM enticing people to violence, right?

Al-Ozarka on January 11, 2011 at 9:18 AM

Al-Jazeera……WE DON`T NEED NO STINKIN FACTS.its ISRAEL!

American Lefty MSM….WE DON`T NEED NO STINKIN FACTS…….

its,

RightWing Militia National Guard Tea Partiers that
are Furiously In a Tempest of Extreme Anger,and its
led by the Leader,Sarah Palin!!(Snark).

canopfor on January 11, 2011 at 9:19 AM

Behead of the Class
Malcolm in the Middle of 72 Virgins
IED Damages
Shrouded Housewives

The Mega Independent on January 11, 2011 at 9:13 AM

The Mega Independent:That should be framed,LOL!

canopfor on January 11, 2011 at 9:21 AM

There is a ton of hate out there and there are people who simply will not let the truth intrude on their hate.

Religious_Zealot on January 11, 2011 at 9:08 AM

Liberalism is a cult.

the_nile on January 11, 2011 at 9:21 AM

Awesome job. The last response was perfect. The hateful rhetoric has escalated by the left.

MrX on January 11, 2011 at 9:24 AM

Oh yeah I forgot, Ed is really hitting the big time, too bad Captains Quarters had to be shelved to make it happen.

Bishop on January 11, 2011 at 9:06 AM

Bishop:I saved it,the day,Captain Ed,joined the USS
Hot Air:)
======================================================

http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/017168.php

canopfor on January 11, 2011 at 9:25 AM

One problem with this dishonest campaign by liberals to couple this atrocity with unrelated political speech is that people have a hard time believing that something this violent, this big, can happen for no coherent reason whatsoever.

Waaay back in college, I went to a convenience store with a couple friends and we encountered a group of big aggressive guys. We ignored them, bought our stuff and were walking home and they came and attacked us. It wasn’t a very successful attack largely because they were drunk, (and they ended up getting arrested to boot).

When we got back to school, most of the other students kept asking

“did they try to rob you”

me – “no”

“well why did they do it?”

me – “I don’t know”

“What did you say to them?”

me – “nothing”

“They didn’t want anything?”

me – “No”

“You must have said something to them, why did they want to fight?”

me – “No, they just wanted to beat someone up, we were there, we were smaller than them, there’s nothing more to it than that. They are evil sociopaths, especially the biggest one.”

At the lineup, we ended up meeting another guy who’d been beaten to within an inch of his life by the same goons. Again, for no reason, no argument, no nothing. The guy just walked up and punched him in the face and started kicking his head after he went down.

forest on January 11, 2011 at 9:27 AM

Ed, you did a very very good job in the interview. Ususally I enjoy having you interview others. Here, you handled the questions very well. Congratulations and Bravo!

chaswv on January 11, 2011 at 9:27 AM

Let’s see if I have this right – Alleged political extreme rhetoric is bad, but killing people over writing a book or showing a bad cartoon is okay if you’re Muslim.

50sGuy on January 11, 2011 at 9:33 AM

A poll up today by CBS says that only 32% of Americans see a link between the Arizona shootings and “extremist rhetoric” (i.e., voicing disagreement with democrats). Though I’m relieved it’s such a low number who see the non-existent connection despite the main stream media’s best efforts, it appears that those 32% are also the people working in the mainstream media.

If not for sites like this, we’d all be getting our “news” from the most fringe left loons in the country. And what do we say of the democrat congressmen and women who have come out to push this narrative. We have people in very powerful positions within our government who exist on the far fringes of the body politic. That’s not good. Just 32 percent — and they are in the halls of Congress, on national television, and being taken seriously on the pages of our leading newspapers. Yikes.

Rational Thought on January 11, 2011 at 9:33 AM

HotAir has finally jumped the proverbial shark and clearly illustrated why, in the end, the West will end up as a lapdog of Islam. The thought that a “conservative” would go on an Islamist network, known the world over for fomenting radical Islam, and play defense rather than turning the tables on them and asserting that they may want to look into their own programming for evidence of actual calls to violence…is pathetic. This was a wasted opportunity.

Instead, you like to listen to yourself talk and could care less about really engaging our foes. As far as I am concerned, an appearance by a true patriot on Al-Jazeera that doesn’t provoke, at least, one fatwa is completely futile and worthless. Grow a pair.

By the way, when you say things like “it’s not good to leap to conclusions” you are simply arming them for the next instance of a Nidal Hasan. The left will remind you not to leap to conclusions when a “criminal” (not terrorist, of course ) with the name of Nidal Hasan shoots us a military base yelling Allahu Akhbar; that it is disgusting to impugn Islam. Is the Islamist strategy of using our own PC crap against us lost on you?

God, you’re so simple-minded and ridiculous to play defense on Al-Jazeera. You suck.

Levinite on January 11, 2011 at 9:33 AM

Loughner forgot to shout the two words that indicate (to the press) that he acted completely on his own, using his own private and inscrutable motivations: “Allahu Akbar!”

RBMN on January 11, 2011 at 9:35 AM

That’s the real reason “jumping to conclusions” has become the favorite participatory sport of the media this week.

Well except if it’s a Muslim that shots up a military facility..

Caper29 on January 11, 2011 at 9:36 AM

First of many one can hope, Ed.

TampaBayBull on January 11, 2011 at 9:38 AM

Loughner forgot to shout the two words that indicate (to the press) that he acted completely on his own, using his own private and inscrutable motivations: “Allahu Akbar!”

RBMN on January 11, 2011 at 9:35 AM

That’s the real reason “jumping to conclusions” has become the favorite participatory sport of the media this week.

Well except if it’s a Muslim that shots up a military facility..

Caper29 on January 11, 2011 at 9:36 AM

On that case, I doubt that we will having this discussion or seen Ed on Al-Jazeera.

El Coqui on January 11, 2011 at 9:47 AM

Mr. Morrissey, you are a saint, Sir.

Schadenfreude on January 11, 2011 at 9:49 AM

Hey Ed, I must say I did not find myself yelling the correct answer at the screen and shouting “no you idiot, that’s not why” !!

In fact, I calmly nodded in agreement through the whole interview…

Well done.

katy on January 11, 2011 at 9:49 AM

Also, the irony, the irony, of Al Jazeera preaching of toning down rhetoric…

Schadenfreude on January 11, 2011 at 9:50 AM

Let me clarify…

Hey Ed, I must say I did not find myself yelling the correct answer at the screen and shouting “no you idiot, that’s not why” !!

Like I do with most pundits… ;)

katy on January 11, 2011 at 9:52 AM

Nice Ed. Congratulations.

If you would have been on the CBC, the interview would have gone pretty much the same way. In fact, I probably have more respect for Al-Jazeera.

Canadian Infidel on January 11, 2011 at 9:52 AM

But nobody’s going to try to smear Max Stirner, George Lakoff, or David Wynn Miller in the pages of the New York Times by recklessly associating their teachings with the tragedy in Tucson because, well, that would be completely bonkers and, more importantly, Max Stirner, George Lakoff, and David Wynn Miller didn’t just recapture the House.

Actually, Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center is being quoted as saying Loughner was most likely influenced by “far right activist David Winn Miller.”

http://news.yahoo.com/s/dailybeast/20110110/ts_dailybeast/11770_isjaredleeloughnermentallyill

mbs on January 11, 2011 at 9:59 AM

Oops, I meant “David Wynn Miller.”

mbs on January 11, 2011 at 9:59 AM

That Economist blog quote is MONEY. Glad somebody is talking some sense here!

rockmom on January 11, 2011 at 10:02 AM

If only more conservative commentators were as informed of breaking information as Ed is, we’d never lose a debate on CNN.

Great job, Ed.

Vincenzo on January 11, 2011 at 10:06 AM

But all the coverage got the Right to shut up so obviously the “rhetoric” has been toned down. Everyone knows that rhetoric is only on the Right. The Left just speaks truth to power.

Cindy Munford on January 11, 2011 at 10:17 AM

Levinite on January 11, 2011 at 9:33 AM

But how do you *really* feel?

KS Rex on January 11, 2011 at 10:18 AM

mbs on January 11, 2011 at 9:59 AM

Ace is having tons of fun with that.

Cindy Munford on January 11, 2011 at 10:18 AM

Gee, that “lowest common denominator” analysis sounds oddly familiar… ;0)

Jazz Shaw on January 11, 2011 at 10:20 AM

Levinite on January 11, 2011 at 9:33 AM

Maybe Mr. Morrissey can send them you information and they can invite you next time.

Cindy Munford on January 11, 2011 at 10:20 AM

Ed, you rock!

capejasmine on January 11, 2011 at 10:22 AM

This situation sets the stage for blaming future acts of violence on the conservative right. History has a number of situations where unknown or even self-inflicted violence is blamed on one’s opponent (see Nero and Christians, Hitler and the Reichstag/Jews). The intentional finger-pointing is moving to a new stage where the potential enactment of sedition acts, martial law, suspension of habeas corpus, and postponement/cancellation of elections becomes justified. We are just one or two steps behind the Left’s hero, Hugo Chavez, following the same path to President for Life.

jerseyman on January 11, 2011 at 10:31 AM

Ace is having tons of fun with that.

Cindy Munford on January 11, 2011 at 10:18 AM

Okay, that’s just funny. I went over and read it. Yeah, I’m not quite sure how anyone classifies David-Wynn: Miller as a far right activist.

mbs on January 11, 2011 at 10:33 AM

We can’t calibrate our political debate to the lowest common denominator of sanity

I’m stealin’ that.

franksalterego on January 11, 2011 at 10:43 AM

Ed, just a suggestion. Might you have not turned this around into a discussion of violent/hateful rhetoric that results in suicide bombers killing people in the name of the Allah? If there is any rhetoric that is truly incendiary, it comes from the left (Bush assassination books/movies, Cheney/Palin effigies etc.) or Islamic extremists/Imams (numerous fatwahs and death threats, kill the Jews, stoning, beheading, Jihad against the infidels)?

jerseyman on January 11, 2011 at 10:45 AM

Ed, just a suggestion. Might you have not turned this around into a discussion of violent/hateful rhetoric that results in suicide bombers killing people in the name of the Allah? If there is any rhetoric that is truly incendiary, it comes from the left (Bush assassination books/movies, Cheney/Palin effigies etc.) or Islamic extremists/Imams (numerous fatwahs and death threats, kill the Jews, stoning, beheading, Jihad against the infidels)?

jerseyman on January 11, 2011 at 10:46 AM

mbs on January 11, 2011 at 10:33 AM

I know, I’m not big on reading stuff the requires a secret decoder ring.

Cindy Munford on January 11, 2011 at 10:49 AM

Maybe Mr. Morrissey can send them you information and they can invite you next time.

Cindy Munford on January 11, 2011 at 10:20 AM

Meh, judging by all of the kudos to Ed that came after my totally awesome posting, I’d say that the majority of the people here aren’t worth saving from the life they will so complacently accept or be ignorant of.

Yeah, great job.

Levinite on January 11, 2011 at 10:57 AM

Levinite on January 11, 2011 at 10:57 AM

That seems a bit of a leap. Mr. Morrissey was a guest on the show answering questions on a specific incident and did a good job. You equate his not hijacking the subject matter with acceptance of behavior not being discussed. Everyone has opinions.

Cindy Munford on January 11, 2011 at 11:09 AM

Ed, good job.

Al-Jazeera could do the world a great service by focusing in on how jihadis and Islamic fundamentalists are killing or have killed hundreds of thousands of Muslims over the past several decades instead of trying to play armchair analyst as to why an Arizona nut job whose parents did precious little to get their kid the help he needed years ago and who ended up shooing totally innocent people at a Safeway store is somehow connected to Sarah Palin, or the Right, or any other nasty level of discourse meme.

Perhaps Al-Jazeera could focus in on Anwar al-Awlaki, who once resided in the American Southwest? Try to explain his actions “in context?”

Al-Jazeera, heal your own before you attempt to exploit the suffering of ours.

coldwarrior on January 11, 2011 at 11:17 AM

God, you’re so simple-minded and ridiculous to play defense on Al-Jazeera. You suck.

Levinite on January 11, 2011 at 9:33 AM

That’s quite unfair.

Cindy Munford on January 11, 2011 at 11:09 AM

However, here’s Melanie Philips demonstrating what’s possible. She gives a full 10 minute smackdown to a hostile TV host. She defends both Israel and Conservatism (towards the end). The background for her position can be found in this Caroline Glick post and others (follow back-links).

gh on January 11, 2011 at 11:17 AM

I always had my doubts about Sarah Palin, but thanks to our national media, I now feel I’m ready to vote for her .. just to drive the national media and my Democratic Friends to wits end.
They deserve Sarah Palin .. as a cure to their prejudice about Republicans and the Right.

J_Crater on January 11, 2011 at 11:24 AM

How about we stop buying the premise that the “toxic rhetoric” isn’t coming “mostly” from the “Right and the Far Right,” hm? It’s total bullshit and we lose every time we argue against the premise.

History, including very recent history, proves who actually “incites violence,” and is responsible for the toxic climate we have now (where any opposition to you, the Left, is in and of itself extremist and must be silenced).

jjraines on January 11, 2011 at 12:12 PM

OK, I said I was going to restrict my comments to two of Ed’s posts, but I’ve decided to go wide with this thing, even if I am only posting here temporarily. I just watched Ed’s interview and I actually agreed with every thing he said, it was a very good interview, but we got a situation here Ed… you did Huckabee dirty and you know you did. Let me ask you something: If someone is doing something that seems hypocritical, are they a real spokeperson, or just a phony?

apacalyps on January 11, 2011 at 12:13 PM

Please ban concern-troll.

slickwillie2001 on January 11, 2011 at 12:33 PM

Great job Ed!

OhioBuckeye7 on January 11, 2011 at 1:34 PM

If you have to avoid speech just because it might set off a violently insane person, then the entire Middle East will just have to STFU.

The Monster on January 11, 2011 at 4:14 PM

I always had my doubts about Sarah Palin, but thanks to our national media, I now feel I’m ready to vote for her .. just to drive the national media and my Democratic Friends to wits end.
They deserve Sarah Palin .. as a cure to their prejudice about Republicans and the Right.

J_Crater on January 11, 2011 at 11:24 AM

No, Fool. You deserve Sarah Palin. Voting for an imbecile to supposedly spite other imbeciles is, in and of itself, the mark of self-destructive half-wit.

Levinite on January 12, 2011 at 7:58 AM

However, here’s Melanie Philips demonstrating what’s possible. She gives a full 10 minute smackdown to a hostile TV host. She defends both Israel and Conservatism (towards the end). The background for her position can be found in this Caroline Glick post and others (follow back-links).

gh on January 11, 2011 at 11:17 AM

Wow, good stuff. Thank you for sharing!

Levinite on January 12, 2011 at 8:07 AM